2015 – The Year of Challenges

2015 was definitely my year for overcoming challenges. Lots of challenges.

January started out incredibly. Hubby and I vacationed at the Sandos Caracol in the Riviera Maya, and it exceeded all my hopes. My blog posts with tons of photos start here. This is just a taste:

Mayan River

1501-1 Mayan River

We met adorable Coatis.

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A troop of spider monkeys live on the resort.

1501-3 Spider monkey

They eat bananas just like we do.

1501-4 Spider Monkey

They also eat them like this.

1501-5 Spider Monkey

Avendia Juarez beach, Playa del Carmen.

1501-6 Avendia Juarez, Playa del Carmen

Tulum is gorgeous.

1501-7 Tulum 1501-8 Tulum

I climbed Grupo Nohoch Mul at Coba. This is a shot from the top.

1501-9 Grupo Nohoch Mul

The resort’s beach.

1501-10 Riviera Maya, Caribbean Sea

Swimming in Cenote Cristalino.

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Somehow, I acquired about six unwanted pounds over Christmas and while on vacation (thanks a lot, Piña Coladas). This gave me the push to begin exercising regularly, although I focused more on improving my cardio than losing weight. I started with a measly ten minutes on the recumbent bike at resistance one, about six days a week, with hopes of increasing both the duration and resistance over time.

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I visited my oldest son (DS1) and his family in February. Luckily, the Alberta winter was mild, and we were able to play outside in the sunshine.

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I watched my six-year-old grandson play hockey and take his turn in net. He thinks he might like playing goal. (Yikes!)

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My dad’s only living sibling turned 100 years old in February, and he’s doing wonderfully.

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My third published book, Dare to Risk All, was released on March 11th. Buy link

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I spent much of March and April researching a trip to Vancouver Island for our June vacation. I’d wanted to go there for years and was quite excited to start planning.

On Easter Sunday, Hubby and I hiked Bear Creek Canyon Trail. Lovely views, a few challenging elevations, with plenty of flatter grades to catch my breath.

1504-1 Bear Creek Canyon Trail 1504-2 Bear Creek Canyon Trail

My old bike was big and heavy, and difficult to handle, so I bought a new one in April. It’s built for a shorty like me. And it’s cute too.

1504-3 New bike

Last Christmas, I gave Hubby theatre tickets, and we eagerly anticipated seeing Addams Family in April. Then, unbelievably, we both totally forgot to go! Thankfully, they let us reschedule. We didn’t forget a second time, and it was an excellent performance.

1504-4a 1504-4b

My second novel, It’s Complicated, received a glowing 5 star review from InD’Tale Magazine earlier in the year, making it eligible for the 2015 RONE Awards. The public voting round started mid-April, so I spent a stressful week begging family and friends to vote.

That same week, Dare to Risk All’s shipment of paperbacks arrived. I don’t think seeing one of my books in print will ever get old.

1504-5 Dare to Risk All

My bookshelf is still rather skinny, but I’ve added to it every year.

1504-6 My books

By the middle of April, I’d lost four of my extra six pounds, and managed to up my bike riding to half an hour, still at resistance one.

To close the month, BIL bravely drove my mom, two of my sisters, a niece and me to Washington for the weekend. We met up with another niece at the Tulalip Casino. I’m not much on casinos, but it was fun to have an outing with my family.

1504-7 Tulalip 1504-8 Tulalip

At this point, you’re probably saying “Where’s the challenges? Life sounds pretty good.” And that’s because May hadn’t hit yet.

At a pit-stop on our way to see DS1 and his family at the beginning of May, our little Roxy fell off a picnic table and broke her leg. She was such a brave girl, but it was quite the ordeal for both of us.

1505-8 Roxy 1505-9 Roxy

Despite that traumatic aspect of the trip, we had a lovely time with our grandkids. We visited Bowness Park, an old childhood favourite of mine. Nothing like a big pile of rocks to entertain little boys.

1505-2 Bowness Park 1505-3 Bowness Park

I also attended my youngest grandson’s Mother’s Day celebration at his preschool. It was pretty special for both of us and I appreciated DIL1 offering to let me go in her place.

1505-4 preschool

As always, the scenery to and from Alberta was spectacular.

1505-1 1505-7 Canmore

I bought Hubby April Wine tickets for his birthday and we were so excited to go (didn’t forget this one!), but it ended up being a bit of a letdown. I loved April Wine’s music back in the 70’s and 80’s, and eagerly anticipated hearing it live. There were lots of long guitar riffs and several drum solos, but very few songs we recognized from their early days.

1505-9 April Wine

Last year, our youngest son (DS3) directed and produced his own movie in South Africa. Lord Jones is Dead completed post production mid-May, and Hubby and I got a private screening. We were so impressed with its professional quality, and Hubby likened it to Monty Python.

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Around the middle of May, we realized we needed to cancel our Vancouver Island trip. Even though Roxy doesn’t actually walk when we hike, the rigorous trip would’ve been too much for her with a casted leg. Talk about disappointment! Then a few days later, Hubby was miraculously able to book a rare week off in August. The trip was back on, several days shorter than originally planned, but I wasn’t complaining.

On the May long weekend, our ancient A/C unit decided to permanently retire. Naturally, the weather was unseasonable warm, and we had company. Worse part was, we couldn’t get a new unit installed for six weeks.

I was notified on May 29th that It’s Complicated had garnered enough votes to make it to the judge’s round of the RONE Awards. My family and friends had come through for me yet again!

2015_05_Contemporary_Sweet_FIN_S

Outside commitments kept me extremely busy most of the spring and summer, forcing me too put my writing and many other aspects of my personal life on hold. I was also at the beck and call of my invalid dog, who couldn’t even get herself a drink of water. With our house constantly overheated, I had to come up with ways of keeping her cool, including sharing my popsicles.

1506-4 Roxy

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Hubby and I took a day of R&R at nearby Beaver Lake at the beginning of June. It’s a lovely spot, and we hope to return one day with our kayak.

1506-5 Beaver Lake 1506-6 Beaver Lake

Family and friends came from near and far to honour my mom with a weekend of celebrations for her 90th birthday in June. She’s certainly a well-loved lady.

1506-7

Our new A/C unit was installed on July 2nd, and we focused on how cool the house finally was, rather than the expensive bill we had to pay.

The next day, Roxy got her cast off. The vet had concerns about the way the bones had healed and she didn’t put weight on that leg for the longest time, but we did physio with her every day, including some adorable hydro-therapy in the bathtub, and she slowly made a complete recovery.

1507-1 Roxy

The only difference we can see is that the leg keeps getting hairier and hairier (weird, right?) and the healed joint is bigger than it used to be.

1507-1a Roxy

Hubby and I explored the charms of Brandt’s Creek one balmy July afternoon.

1507-2 Brandt's Creek 1507-3 Brandt's Creek

I flew to Alberta at the end of July to celebrate my grandson’s birthday. We played in the Elbow River, an activity I did as a teenager.

1507-56 Elbow River

We spent a very entertaining and informative day in Drumheller at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and viewing the hoodoos.

1507-57 Royal Tyrrell Museum 1507-58 Hoodoos

And we capped the weekend off by attending a Stampeders football game. I hadn’t been to one in over forty years, so it was quite nostalgic for me, and my team won!

1507-59 Calgary Stampeders VS Montreal Allouettes

At the beginning of August, The Wild Rose Press contracted another of my books for publication. It’s titled Visual Effects and I’m guessing (hoping) it’ll be out next spring.

Because of the busyness of my summer, we only got out kayaking once, ambitiously paddling from Sutherland Bay to Paul’s Tomb and back.

1508-1 Paul's Tomb 1508-2 Paul's Tomb

By August, I had lost twelve pounds. I was still riding the bike for half an hour several days a week, but every time I tried going to resistance two, my knee would act up. Wearing a rather cumbersome brace has helped to stabilize the knee.

1508-8 Knee brace

Back in May, I discovered Roxy had a rotten tooth. The vet wouldn’t pull it without a multitude of tests first, so we hoped it’d just fall out on its own. When I had the vet check it again mid-August, it practically fell out in his hand. I told Hubby how it only cost $30, adding that I deserved some good karma for all the hard work I’d been doing. I don’t usually talk that way, and I should’ve kept my mouth shut, because only minutes later, I had a freak accident, which resulted in a severe injury to my foot. So much for good karma!

1508-9 Foot injury

1 Foot injury

Lots of bruising a couple of days later.

1508-11 Foot injury

To make matters worse, this injury happened mere days before our Vancouver Island trip. With serious nerve and tendon damage, I wasn’t supposed to walk on it, but I did anyway, determined not to let it ruin our wonderful trip. I shared many vacation tales and photos here. These are just a few of the highlights.

Schooner Cove Trail

1508-17 Schooner Cove Trail, Pacific Rim Park

Florencia Bay beach

1508-18 Florencia Bay beach, Pacific Rim Park

Lighthouse Loop

1508-19 Lighthouse Loop, Wild Pacific Trail, Ucluelet

Big Beach, Ucluelet

1508-20 Big Beach, Ucluelet

On the last day of August, I received the sad, if not completely unexpected, news that one of my publishers, Secret Cravings, was closing its doors, effectively orphaning two of my books. I immediately started revamping the books to submit somewhere else, and my other publisher also offered to look at them, but to date I’ve made no decisions on what to do.

I was probably the happiest mom on the planet when my brown-eyed boy (DS2) told me in September that he and DIL2 were moving back home after eight long years living in eastern Canada!!

It’s Complicated didn’t place at the RONE Awards ceremony in September. Because the book was no longer for sale, and I’d already won the award for Show No Weakness, I was content to have finaled.

Hubby and I checked out Kuiper’s Peak at the end of September. Although the trail itself was short and uninspiring, the views of Okanagan Lake were exceptional.

1509-4 Kuipers Peak 1509-5 Kuipers Peak 1509-6 Kuipers Peak

We made our annual trek to Alberta for Thanksgiving and once again were blessed with lovely weather. DS1 got us tickets to a Stamps football game, and although my team lost, it was a fine night and we enjoyed ourselves.

1510-1 Stamps VS Eskimos

DIL1 drove us to Bowden where I experienced the fun of a Corn Maze for the first time.

1510-2 Bowden Corn Maze 1510-3 Bowden Corn Maze

We celebrated both DS1 and DIL1’s birthdays while there.

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The landscape on the trip home was alive with glorious fall colours.

1510-5 Three Valley Gap

By mid-October, my foot had healed enough for me to resume my bike riding regime. I had concerns about not having pedaled for two months, but I was able to quickly ramp up to a half hour at resistance two.

DIL2 treated me to a Bare Naked Ladies concert in October. Alan Doyle (formerly of Great Big Sea) was the opening act and, wow, what a great night of music. And such fun to share it with my DIL.

1510-6 Alan Doyle 1510-7 Bare Naked Ladies 1510-8 Bare Naked Ladies

The return of DS2 and DIL2 means Daisy’s back too. Daisy and I kinda love each other, and she certainly hasn’t forgotten me.

1510-22 With Daisy

Remember the bit about the A/C unit breaking down in May? Well, our ten-year-old furnace bit the big one in November. We could’ve had it repaired—if we wanted to wait four to six weeks for the parts. In November? Uh, no. So after ten chilly furnace-less days, we had the latest and greatest (and hugely expensive) one installed. Fingers crossed it lasts longer than its crappy predecessor.

The book cover for my new release, Visual Effects, was finalized mid-November. I’m quite happy with it, and I’ll do a cover reveal as soon as I get my release date.

It was a pleasure to celebrate DIL2’s birthday with her this year.

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We also had the privilege of attending her call ceremony in December. Such an accomplished young lady!

1512-20 Call ceremony

We hung memory ornaments for my dad and MIL at the local cemetery. My MIL loved Christmas, and I believe she’d be pleased.

1512-1 memory ornaments

Like our past several Christmases, this year wasn’t traditional. We spent part of Christmas Eve with lots of little ones at my niece’s beautiful home, where Santa made an appearance, and DS2 and 3 got a visit in with their grandma.

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Christmas day was very quiet, just Hubby and DS3 to open a few presents with. Later, DIL2 hosted a lovely dinner at her parents’ place.

1512-23 1512-99 Christmas dinner

We cooked our turkey dinner on the Sunday after Christmas and had some family over to share it with us.

1512-25 Belated Christmas dinner

Traditional Christmas or not, it meant so much to me to have more than one special present under my tree.

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2015 wasn’t my best year and, while it certainly wasn’t my worst either, I’m glad it’s in the rear-view mirror. I look forward to what 2016 holds.

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